LIT PERSIAN LITERATURE 135 was written by Firdausi, whereupon the Sultan confessed his deep regret that he had disappointed the poet and promised that he would send him something. Accordingly, upon the arrival of Mahmud at Ghazna, sixty thousand dinars' worth of indigo was despatched to Tabaran on the royal camels, with the monarch's apologies. But, as the train of camels bearing the royal bounty entered Tabaran by the Rudbar Gate, the corpse of Firdausi was borne forth from the Rizan Gate. The daughter of the poet refused the tardy gift, and, as Jami wrote five centuries later : Gone is the greatness of Mahmud, departed his glory, And shrunk to " He knew not the worth of Firdausi" his story. I have quoted from the Shahnama more than once, but the great epic entirely loses its sonorous majesty in a translation. It contains all the legends as well as all the history of Persia known to-its author, who drew on Sasanian works and was faithful to his authorities.1 The result is a poem which appeals to Persians as nothing else does in their language/, which makes them glow with pride at the valour of their forbears and unites them in their intense pride of'TadeL Listening to its lines declaimed by some fiery tribesman who can neither read nor write, I have realized that on such occasions the Persian lays bare his very soul. Browne frankly confesses that he cannot appreciate the Shahnama, but the late Professor Cowell wrote the following noble eulogy : <c Augustus said that he found Rome of brick, and left it marble ; and Firdausi found his country almost without a literature, and has left her a poem that all succeeding poets could only imitate and never surpass, and which, indeed, can rival them all even in their peculiar styles, and perhaps stands as alone in Asia as Homer's epics in Europe. . . . His versification is exquisitely melodious, and never interrupted by harsh forms of construction ; and the poem runs on from be- ginning to end, like a river, in an unbroken current of harmony. Verse after verse ripples on the ear and washes up its tribute of rhyme ; and we stand, as it were, on the i Vide Chapter XLI. p. 506.